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Relaunch of site with lot of content but losing money

     
11:37 am on Feb 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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hi everyone,

for the past 10 years, i have been working with my team on a news website. the website has faced decline in traffic over these years. the site provides daily news.

at the moment, there are nearly 1 million news pages on the site.

we have our unique content as well. I would say 20% our content and 80% wire services content.

there can be many factors in decline if traffic
1. content that comes from wire services is present on many other sites
2. no social media presence (we never ran after traffic from social media)

the traffic has declined to a level that the site isn't profitable.

I was thinking of taking the site offline (say for few months).

AND, relaunch it.

the idea behind taking it offline is to have that content (our unique content) deleted from internet.
then, once we launch the site with say 150-200K pages of unique content after say 5-6 months (or maybe 3-4 months).
I see high chances of our new website (with a new URL) getting high ranking.

Will it be a better idea to relaunch the website with only our own unique content?

Please note that it is news content and it has shelf life. Still,it will be unique for search engines (probably if it is dropped from their cache?)

I request members on this forum to offer their suggestions if such a strategy could work?

has anyone tried such a strategy and what was the outcome?

coming back to ask on this forum after a long time so I might have missed a lot of things that happened here.

regards
dhaliwal
1:16 pm on Feb 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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why the different domain name?
2:03 pm on Feb 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Because would prefer to have a new start (I would be taking the site offline for 3-6 months). And want to present this as new content for search engines.
2:23 pm on Feb 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think you're barking up the wrong tree with that idea. If traffic is declining now with the content you have, why would taking it offline and then republishing with another domain fix that? Unless there's something you're not telling us.
6:01 pm on Feb 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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agent_x
i don't understand what you are trying to say here.

I wouldn't mind keeping them same domain (which is premium domain) but I think it might have better chances to showcase the site content as unique content in case i take up a new domain.
7:31 pm on Feb 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm saying I doubt it's your content on its own that is the reason for the decline in traffic. If it's not you would be taking your website offline for the wrong reason. And if it is, why would taking it offline and then putting it back up solve the problem?
8:32 pm on Feb 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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You say that about 20% of your content is original and unique, while the other 80% is wire-service content. If you were to eliminate the wire-service content, what would be left? Articles, etc. on a specific niche or topic? Or simply a smaller version of the site that you have now?

If the goal is to become a more focused, authoritative site on a specific topic or niche, then it might make sense to dump the wire-service filler and rebrand. (Among other things, you'd be making your site more attractive to niche advertisers.) But it might be even smarter to keep what you've got and launch a separate site on your proposed new domain.
8:51 pm on Feb 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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if it's all news, then it makes sense that the traffic is dwindling to those pages. who searches for old news?
6:27 am on Feb 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@EditorialGuy
If we keep 20% of our original content, it would be 200K pages of news content on companies, people, health and celebrities. its not specific niche, its general news content. it will be a small version of the site but I feel that it could get in more traffic and would be considered as quality site with unique content.

My point is to have a site with 100% original content instead of 20%.

AS YOU SAID>>But it might be even smarter to keep what you've got and launch a separate site on your proposed new domain.

You mean to launch the complete site as it is, on a new domain and start adding fresh content?

@londrum: major news websites get traffic to their old news content as well. that makes up to 20-25% of their traffic. not bad, going by the numbers.

I want to ask one question here..

Will it be a good idea to remove the content for say few months and relaunch it. Will the fresh site be considered as a unique site by Google? If yes, then it has a chance to rank for those topics, those keywords and bring in traffic.
2:40 pm on Feb 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I don't believe the content is your issue.
Did you manage to analyse your backlinks?
Did you run a SEO analysis to understand the quality of the traffic you are getting now? Maybe you have been spammed.
Where did you rank before you have started to notice you lose traffic and where are you ranking now?

[edited by: not2easy at 3:00 pm (utc) on Feb 12, 2017]
[edit reason] Please Read TOS/No links [/edit]

3:19 pm on Feb 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google does not forget, they can forgive. Why not just noindex the content that is not your own original content? Then you're free to remove it or not based on the usage it gets without expecting it to assist in ranking.

I would not waste money on some third party tools to tell you what you already know about your site. Nor would I recommend the plan outlined in your first post. It is only original where it is, copied to a different domain it would appear to be copied/scraped content, which would be worse.
3:59 pm on Feb 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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You mean to launch the complete site as it is, on a new domain and start adding fresh content?

I simply meant that, instead of demolishing everything and starting afresh, it could make sense to launch your new content on the new domain that you were thinking of using. In other words, keep your existing site, but also start a new one.

However, that isn't likely to do much for you if the new content/site is just more general news. (It might be a viable strategy if you were focusing on a specific type of news--i.e., building a new niche news site and not just a wire-service-free clone of what you already have.)

On balance, not2easy's suggestion of noindexing wire-service filler sounds like a more practical approach to try.
4:15 pm on Feb 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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now, for those who want to see the impact we have seen on traffic over last 4 years.
the traffic has gradually reduced from average 100-110K visitors per day to 3K visitors per day.
So, I would add here that we don't have much to lose.
If we start with a better strategy, we stand to gain a lot. 200K pages of original content (although old news content) isn't bad to start with. I am here to see what would be the best strategy


@not2easy
you said that Google doesn't forget content. You mean to say that even after a specific content has been deleted from a Website, Google will keep it in its records ? For how long they would keep that?

@SEOImperatorAgency
we have always cared about content and that means we haven't spend money or resources on SEO.
as news websites keep on getting good links on their own, we never had the need to build links. we had lot of links on regular basis and many of them still remain.
4:28 pm on Feb 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Trying to get new users to read old news is not a good strategy, no matter how you want to push it. I've done it with my own fresh content that got stale. Especially if the news are time sensitive. The traffic level is what it is for a reason. Simply put, old news are dragging fresh news down.

Google keeps old URL's forever. They still visit people's URL's 10 years ago or more. I'll guess that they'll forget after a lifetime (maybe). 100 years? I'll be dead.

Noindex old and stale news so that they do not take google SERP is the way to go. You don't have much to lose is exactly why it is the way to go.

Use relevant links internally, so that new users to read fresh news through Google, and have them travel internally to the old news from internally linking (noindex), while still gaining that pageview (ad income) will be better for the site in the long run.

For the short term, I bet that you'll see no change in traffic due to "throttling effects". Those traffic traveling to noindexed pages through Google originally are very likely to start shift to the fresh news that are indexed. Long term...well...who knows.

I personally would look at traffic logs, and starting chopping (noindexing) pages that do not receive search traffic first.
5:36 pm on Feb 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have removed content from sites - some over 10 years ago and they still request those pages. I have no links on my site to that content, it is not in my sitemaps and it was (in my opinion) lightweight but original and current content at the time I published it. The content covered an entire directory and I have done everything I could to let search engines know it was gone. I still see Google returning 404s for those old pages, over a decade since they were removed.

I second frankleeceo's suggestion to begin deleting noindexed content in the order of traffic it gets. If it gets no traffic and lowers the overall ratio of original content on your site it should be the first to go. Just check to be sure it is no longer indexed before chopping it. The site: command can let you keep track of that.

6:52 pm on Feb 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@frankleeceo and not2easy
it is actually strange for google to keep requesting pages that have been deleted.

they are sending their search traffic to pages that don't exist (and they know that those pages don't exist).
8:06 pm on Feb 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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<tangent>
I still see Google returning 404s for those old pages

Unlike some search engines, Google does seem to understand 410. So if you return an explicit 410 on the deleted pages--this is, after all, what the 410 code officially means--you should see a great drop in Google requests.
</tangent>
8:49 pm on Feb 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I doubt that these old, "long gone" pages are being shown in search results, they would need to be able to crawl them to decide when/where to show them. Google may keep old information about a site in their supplemental index where it is not shown in search results. You can find many discussions on these forums from people noticing this problem over the years. It was brought up here only because of the apparent idea that the old content on a different "new" domain would be seen as unique.

If it were so simple to repurpose content, it would be done by those who ran into difficulty when paid/arranged backlinks penalties came on the algorithm scene. You can't create new content by renaming (or changing the URLs of) old content. IMO it would be beneficial to have your own unique content as the indexed content of your existing site right where it has been and to noindex the duplicate content that can be found at many sites.

Keep in mind that if your previous better ranking were gained due to the shared content, then you can't regain those kind of rankings by eliminating the shared/duplicate content, but it may help if you aren't asking Google to index that content as if it were yours. Using it as supplemental (noindexed) content can't hurt as much as moving it somewhere else and waiting for it to be seen as "new" and "unique". Just my opinion.
4:22 pm on Feb 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Have you checked your articles to see if it's been scraped?

I don't agree with taking the site offline, you'll just end having to put in twice the effort to get to where you are now.
9:05 pm on Feb 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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While site longevity is not weighted the same as the old days, it still has some authority value. Why give that up? As for content being found, places like Way Back have copies and G archives its cache of the web.

The original content needs a BRAND and building on what you already have is much easier then starting from scratch ... and the sandbox that surely follows for all new sites will also have an impact, usually more negative these days than positive.

News is a tough niche. Nearly every search engine has its own "late breaking" section. Lack of traffic is attributable to that more than anything else. A "news niche" site needs more than just news to stand out among the hundreds of thousands of sites doing the same thing.

Will a new domain, new look, same old biz, bring back lost traffic? Probably not, but rather than dump the current site create a second (and don't link it to the existing site other than natural reporting purposes) with all new presentation, philosophy, and CONTENT. You'll have your answer in 6 to 12 months.

Edit to add: Make sure the Whois for the new domain is completely different than your existing site. Any search engine worth its salt checks that stuff.
8:51 am on Feb 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I still see Google returning 404s for those old pages


Why not use .htaccess to return 410s (a single line, if an entire directory)?
4:34 pm on Feb 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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i have another website. i will test my strategy with that one.

maybe i will allow the current domain to expire as well.

i know google is keeping lot of data about websites and might be having records and complete snapshots of old websites. but, i don't they will compare current index with those archives and then see what they have to do. seems like too much of science fiction.

i will update with my results with a small subset in few months.
5:58 pm on Feb 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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maybe i will allow the current domain to expire as well.


wha? 3000 visits a day, and you might let it expire?
9:05 am on Feb 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Whoooa!

Hold one there @dhalival . Few, in my experience, key things why you should consider before continue thinking what you are thinking.

1) Never go offline. 3-6 months is big enough for Google to fill your SERP positions with other players and thus you will technically increase your competition
2) If you go fresh, that is OK, but keep in mind that all those links, mentions and brand you created will be lost or severely punished. Saying it does not do work for you today does not mean it does not do work for you on principle. Also you need strong data to go that route.
3) You say that you have unique content, but how unique is it? Reasoning is, that the content still operates in certain relevance niche, so if you have presence there already, new content can help you out in the current situation more so, than be a panacea for your problems.
4) If you are building a new website, obviously you are addressing some UX/UI, technical and conversion problems of your previous site. That being said, this a good time to stop keeping all eggs in one basket and start doing more on the social media front, partner traffic, e-mail newsletters, the works. This will enable you to have more returning visits, leading to more clicks on your ads or other monetization methods you are using. That has nothing to do with starting fresh, but has alot to do with doing what is needed to keep with the fast pace of changing needs and habits of the online visitors.
5) Technical SEO still works well. Domain name age and relevancy, evergreen content you currently have and topic relevancy are all things that currently still provide you with traffic. What assurance you have that if you start from scratch, the benefits of the new site will outweigh the benefits of the current site you already have?

In short, I believe you do not close shop and open a new shop. Never really worked on the digital space. Even big rebrandings of online news outlets or service companies (most often seen in the SaaS sector) use the old site as a stepping stone for the new site.

Hope I helped.